Is Your Job Messing With Your Fertility?

A new study finds that certain occupations can jeopardize a woman's ability to get pregnant. Are you at risk?

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If you work hard for your money, you might have a hard time conceiving, according to a new study. The research, which was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, found a correlation between working jobs that are physically demanding or involve putting in irregular hours, and problems with a woman's ability to conceive. But you shouldn't let this story scare you into quitting—since this was an observational study, there's no absolute cause-and-effect that indicates that women who have these types of jobs won't be able to get pregnant.

Researchers analyzed fertility by looking at the ovarian reserves (which refers to number of eggs and levels of follicle-stimulating hormone) of 473 women at a fertility clinic. They also observed ovarian response, or the number of mature eggs capable of developing into healthy embryos, in 313 women who had been through one round of IVF.

The researchers also quizzed these women about their jobs, and about 40 percent of the women said they were regularly required to move or lift heavy objects at work. About 90 percent of the women surveyed said they worked during normal office hours. Based on their findings, physical demands at work correlated with lower egg reserve, while working night/evening hours was linked to fewer mature eggs, which might be because of disruptions to the body clock caused by working abnormal office hours.

"These findings have clinical implications, as women with fewer mature oocytes would have fewer eggs which are capable of developing into healthy embryos," the researchers wrote. "[The results] suggest that occupational factors may be more specifically affecting oocyte production and quality, rather than accelerating ovarian aging."

But again, the researchers pointed out that these results are based on the observation of a group of women—and while they suggest a link, you shouldn't let it get you down.

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